Tefillin and bathrooms

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Addendum-Tefillin and bathrooms

*See Chapter 5 Halacha 12 and Chapter 6 Halacha 11 for the previous discussion on this subject.

 

Introduction:

In previous times when Tefillin were worn throughout the entire day, and bathrooms we’re mainly situated in fields and other public areas [as opposed to the modern addition a private bathrooms in homes and buildings] the question of what is to be done with ones Tefillin during bathroom use was both very pertinent and complex. An entire chapter in the Shulchan Aruch [chapter 43] is in fact dedicated to this subject. In this chapter in the Shulchan Aruch, the laws of entering Torah books into a bathroom are also discussed. Nonetheless, below we will mainly focus on the laws relevant to Tefillin. For the detailed laws regarding entering Sefarim into a bathroom see our corresponding Sefer “Awaking like a Jew” Chapter 7 Halacha 16!

 

The various types of bathroom areas and their subsequent laws:

There exist a variety of types of bathroom areas, which receive different rulings regarding entering sacred objects into them, such as a public bathroom versus a private bathroom, a bathroom with a toilet versus a urinal room, and versus doing ones needs in an open area such as in the field. This chapter will go through all of these types of bathrooms and their subsequent laws.  

 

 1. Entering Tefillin into a public bathroom:

This law deals with entering Tefillin, and other sacred items, into a public bathroom. In this regard, a public bathroom refers to any area which is not private enough for one to feel safe in leaving his items outside the bathroom while he goes in[1], whether it be a park bathroom, a bathroom that is in a public building such as the mall or airport, and even the public bathroom of a synagogue in which one does not feel safe leaving his items outside. It is due to this reason that public bathrooms contain certain leniencies regarding entering sacred items into them versus a private bathroom, as will be explained.

 A. A bathroom with a toilet that is used for both urination and bowel movement [i.e. Beis Hakisei Kavua]:

Wearing the Tefillin inside:[2] It is forbidden to enter a bathroom while wearing Tefillin even if they are covered. This applies even by a public bathroom and whether when is entering to defecate urinate or not even to do his needs at all.[3] ]Some Poskim[4] rule that this is a Biblical prohibition to defecate while wearing Tefillin.] See Chapter 5 Halacha 12 for the full details of this matter!

Wearing Tefillin within four Amos of a bathroom:[5] One who desires to enter a mobile bathroom is required to remove his Tefillin prior to entering a distance of four Amos [196 centimeters] from the entrance of the bathroom. It is not necessary to do so prior to entering other types of bathrooms, such as the typical bathroom of a home or building.  See Chapter 5 Halacha 12B!

Bringing uncovered Tefillin inside:[6] It is forbidden to enter a bathroom with uncovered Tefillin, even if he is not wearing them. This applies whether he is entering the bathroom to have a bowel movement or urinate.[7] [One needs to cover them before entering the bathroom.[8]] It is proper to be stringent not to enter revealed Tefillin or Sefarim into a bathroom even if one does not desire to currently do his needs in the bathroom.[9]

Bringing Tefillin that is in a bag inside:[10] If the Tefillin are inside a bag which is not designated for them, or it is inside a bag which is designated for them, but is a Tefach or more in size[11], then it is permitted for one to enter with it into the bathroom and do his needs, even to urinate standing[12], as if one were to leave it outside there is chance of it getting stolen.[13] It is not necessary for the Tefillin to be inside a double covering.[14]

Wrapping the Tefillin in one’s clothing-Bowel movement:[15] If one plans to wear his Tefillin after using the bathroom[16] then the Tefillin may be entered with him into a public bathroom even if they are not in a bag, if they are wrapped in one’s clothing and held in ones right hand near ones heart. Even the straps must be covered in one’s clothing.

Wrapping the Tefillin in one’s clothing-Urinating:[17] If one plans to wear his Tefillin after using the bathroom[18], then the Tefillin may be entered with him into a public bathroom even if they are not in a bag, if they are wrapped in one’s clothing and held in ones right hand near ones heart. Even the straps must be covered in one’s clothing. However, in such a case, one may only urinate sitting, or while standing but on an absorbing surface. However, if he wants to urinate standing, then if the surface that the urine enters is hard, he may not enter the uncovered Tefillin while wrapped in his clothing.[19] Rather, if he plans on urinating standing, then he should give the Tefillin to someone else to watch until he is done.[20] If one does not plan on wearing the Tefillin after using the bathroom[21], then the Tefillin may only be entered if covered in a valid bag, as explained above.[22]

Torah Books:[23] One may not enter revealed Torah books into a public bathroom even if they are wrapped in his clothing.[24] They may only be entered if they are in an [undesignated ] bag, or a [designated] bag [which is a Tefach or more].

 B. A urinal-A bathroom which is used only for urination [i.e. Beis Hakisei Sheiyno Kavua[25]]:

Wearing the Tefillin:[26] Entering while wearing Tefillin into a bathroom that contains only a urinal, follows the same laws as wearing Tefillin while urinating in a field in which case we rule that the Tefillin may be worn in the area, although is not to be worn while urinating. See Chapter 5 Halacha 12C for the full details of this subject! [It requires further analysis if this allowance would likewise apply to public bathrooms that contain urinals, in which the toilets are completely separated from the urinal and are within their own separate cubicles with doors and walls surrounding them.[27]]

Bringing uncovered Tefillin inside:[28] Tefillin may be entered into a urinal room even if they are not covered. However, if the Tefillin are held in one’s hands, then one may only urinate while holding them if one is doing so in a sitting position, or on loose earth [i.e. an absorbing surface].

Bringing Tefillin that is in a bag inside:[29] Tefillin that is in a bag may be entered into a urinal room and one may urinate while holding it even in a standing position, even onto loose earth.

Torah books:[30] One may not enter uncovered Torah books into a urinal room even if they are wrapped in his clothing. They may only be entered if they are in an [undesignated] bag, or a [designated] bag [which is a Tefach or more].

 C. Entering a public bathroom with ones covered Tefillin if someone else is able to watch it outside:[31]

Whenever the Tefillin is [covered or] wrapped in a way that it is permitted to enter with it into the public bathroom, then it is praiseworthy for one to take his Tefillin with him into the public bathroom rather than give it to a friend to guard.[32] [However, some Poskim[33] rule that in all cases it is better to give it to a friend to guard rather than enter it into the bathroom, even if it is properly covered.]

 2. Entering Tefillin into a private bathroom:

This law deals with entering Tefillin, and other sacred items, into a private bathroom. In this regard, a private bathroom refers to any area which is private enough for one to feel safe in leaving his items outside the bathroom while he goes in[34], whether it be inside one’s home, or friends’ home, or a private Shul. Private bathrooms contained stricter laws then do public bathrooms, as will be explained.

 A. A bathroom with a toilet that is used for both urination and bowel movement [i.e. Beis Hakisei Kavua]: [35]

One may not enter Tefillin into a private bathroom even if he only plans on urinating, and even if they are in a bag [that is not designated for them, and certainly if they are merely wrapped in ones clothes, or their designated bag].[36] [Some Poskim rule that this applies even if the Tefillin is within two coverings.[37]]

Torah books: May not be entered into such a bathroom, even if they are fully covered, just as is the law for Tefillin. [see footnote for opinion of M”B[38]]

 

Q&A

May one enter Tefillin into a private bathroom if they are doubly covered?[39]

If a Sefer is within two coverings many Poskim[40] rule it is allowed to enter it into a private bathroom. The same would apply to Tefillin.[41] Other Poskim[42] however rule one may never enter Tefillin [or Sefarim] into a private bathroom, even if they are doubly covered, being that one can leave them outside the bathroom without worry of them getting stolen. Practically, regarding Tefillin, people are accustomed to being stringent in this matter.[43]

Are Tefillin that are within a Tefillin bag and Tallis bag considered to be within two coverings?

No. Both coverings are considered a single covering that is designated for the Tefillin and hence one may not enter the Tefillin even into a public bathroom.[44] If one places the Tefillin in an undesignated bag then it is considered a double covering.

 

 B. A urinal-A bathroom which is used only for urination [i.e. Beis Hakisei Sheiyno Kavua]:[45]

It is permitted for one to enter Tefillin [and Torah books[46]] into such a bathroom if he enters to urinate, and they are placed in a [undesignated] bag, [or in a designated bag which is one Tefach or more].

C. Using the bathroom in ones outside property, such a backyard:[47]

Urinating: It is permitted for one to enter Tefillin [and Torah books[48]] into the area which he plans to urinate in if they are placed in an [undesignated] bag, [or in a designated bag which is one Tefach or more].

Bowel movement: When having a bowel movement, the Tefillin may not be entered into the area even if they are covered.

 

Summary:

It is never permitted to have Tefillin or Torah books which are not in a proper bag present when urinating or having a bowel movement in a private area, even if one is in an open area, even if they are covered in one’s clothing. If they are in a bag, then by an only urine private bathroom, or by urinating in a private yard, having them present is permitted. By a private bathroom designated also for bowel movement, and whenever having a bowel movement even in a private field, Tefillin or Torah books may never be entered even if they are in a bag. [Nevertheless, some are lenient if the books and Tefillin are in a double covering.]

 

 3. Entering with Tefillin into a bathroom without intention to do ones needs:[49]

Whenever one enters a bathroom without intention of using it at all, neither for urinating nor defecating, there are Poskim[50] who rule that one may enter into it with Tefillin in his hand even if they are revealed. This applies even by a bathroom with a toilet [i.e. Beis Hakiesei Kavua, the bathroom is used for both urine and feces] and even within one’s own home [or other private area]. The same applies likewise for Torah books [that they may be entered into a bathroom even without a covering, if one does not plan to do his needs]. However, there are Poskim[51] who prohibit to enter with Tefillin to a Beis Hakisei Kavua [i.e. a bathroom with a toilet that is also used for feces] even if one does not have intent to do his needs, just as it is forbidden to enter it in order to do his needs [and thus they receive the same law for all purposes, that by a private bathroom it is forbidden even if the Tefillin are covered, and by a public bathroom, it is only permitted if covered with a valid covering]. Practically one should be stringent and suspect for this latter opinion.[52] All the above leniency is only regarding entering into a bathroom with the Tefillin in one’s hands. However, it is forbidden according to all in all circumstances to enter a bathroom [that has a toilet] while wearing Tefillin on one’s head or arm even if he does not plan to defecate, or even urinate, at all, and even if the Tefillin are covered.[53]

 4. Covering the straps:[54]

Whenever it is required to cover ones Tefillin upon entering a bathroom or doing ones needs, also the straps must be covered to the point that they do not extend out from one’s hand [or clothing] a Tefach’s length. This is because also the straps of the Tefillin have holiness, as the letters Shin and Yud of G-d’s name is set on them.

________________________________________

[1] See Admur 43:3 “It is a Mitzvah for him to personally guard them” and 43:5 “Perhaps bystanders will take them”

[2] See Admur 43:1; Michaber 43:1; Rava Brachos 23a; Rabbeinu Yerucham 19:5; M”A 43:1; See Sefer Hateruma end of Hilchos Tefillin; Or Zarua 1:586; Orchos Chaim Tefillin 6

[3] The reason entering to urinate is forbidden: It is forbidden to enter the bathroom while wearing Tefillin even to urinate due to a decree that one may defecate in the process. [Admur ibid and 43:3; Michaber ibid; Brachos ibid] Meaning, that we worry that perhaps he will end up also having a bowel movement, [which is Biblically forbidden to do while wearing Tefillin].

The reason entering for even no need is forbidden: As even in a bathhouse the Sages prohibited entering while wearing Tefillin. [Admur ibid and 45:3] Now, although above we explained that the reason it is forbidden to enter a bathroom to urinate while wearing Tefillin is because we suspect that the person may have a bowel movement [thus implying that when entering without intention to urinate then there is no prohibition to enter while wearing the Tefillin], nevertheless, this is only because without this reason the sages would not have wanted to trouble one to remove his Tefillin prior to every urination being that urinating is a human necessity [i.e. Chayav Shel Adam] which cannot be withheld [despite the fact that even entering into a bathroom while wearing Tefillin is generally prohibited]. However. when one enters the bathroom without a need to urinate, then the ideal ruling applies that one may not enter wearing Tefillin. [Admur ibid; M”A ibid]

[4] Shagas Aryeh 40 “To flatulate is a Biblical prohibition due to Bizuiy Mitzvah”; See Ashel Avraham Butchach 38; Darkei Teshuvah Y.D. 28

[5] See Admur 43:3; Michaber 43:1; Tur 43:5; Brachos 23a

[6] See Admur 43: 3 “Even if revealed, so long as he does not enter into a Beis Hakisei Kavua” and 43:6 “All the above is regarding if one enters to defecate, or even urinate in a Beis Hakisei Kavua as we suspect that he may also defecate, however if he does not enter them to do his needs at all some permit him to enter even revealed Tefillin there.”

[7] The reason: It is forbidden to wear uncovered Tefillin while one is having a bowel movement. For this reason, it is likewise prohibited to have them revealed even while urinating, as there is a chance that upon urinating, he will feel a need to also defecate. [Admur 43:3 and 6]

[8] It requires further analysis if one is required to also cover his Tefillin properly within four Amos of a bathroom that contains its own structure, or four Amos prior to the chosen area for defecating in a field, if one plans to enter the bathroom to defecate or urinate. Although one who is wearing his Tefillin and plans to use the bathroom must remove them prior to entering four Amos of a mobile bathroom or field area for defecation, as stated above, perhaps this requirement is only to remove the Tefillin from the body prior to entering the 4 cubit radius of such areas, however, to have them uncovered is permitted, and so is implied from the wording in Admur 43:3. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[9] Admur 43:6

Background: Whenever one enters a bathroom without intention of using it at all, neither for urinating nor defecating, there are Poskim who rule that one may enter Tefillin or Sefarim in his hand even if they are revealed. [1st opinion in Admur ibid; M”A 43:14; Rosh Brachos 3:26; Tosafus , brought in Rabbeinu Yerucham 19:5] This applies even by a bathroom with a toilet [i.e. Beis Hakisei Kavua, the bathroom is used for both urine and feces] and even within one’s own home [or other private area]. However, there are Poskim who prohibit to enter with Tefillin to a Beis Hakiesei Kavua [i.e. a bathroom with a toilet that is also used for feces] even if one does not have intent to do his needs, just as it is forbidden to enter it in order to do his needs [and thus they receive the same law for all purposes, that by a private bathroom it is forbidden even if the Tefillin are covered, and by a public bathroom, it is only permitted if covered with a valid covering]. [2nd opinion in Admur ibid; Rav Haiy Gaon, brought in Rosh ibid, Rabbeinu Yerucham ibid, Rabbeinu Yonah Brachos 23a] Practically, one should be stringent and suspect for this latter opinion. [Admur ibid; Beis Yosef 43]

The ruling of Admur in the Siddur: Admur in the Siddur rules that it is forbidden to have Tefillin or Sefarim revealed in front of feces. Vetzaruch Iyun based on this ruling if here too he would hold it is forbidden [and not just merely a proper measure] to enter improperly covered Tefillin into a bathroom.

[10] Admur 43:4

[11] The reason a non-designated bag or Tefach is needed: If the Tefillin are covered by their own designated covering [i.e. Tefillin bag] then it is nullified to the Tefillin and the Tefillin is considered as if it is uncovered. If, however, the cover has a Tefach of space then it is not nullified to the Tefillin. [Admur ibid] The reason why if it has a Tefach it is valid is because it is considered like an Ohel. [M”A 43:13] Vetzaruch Iyun as to the definition of a Tefach. Does it mean a Tefach of space that is hovering over the Sefer, such as if the Sefer is in a box or does it mean that the vessel has the total space of a Tefach inside? Seemingly the former is correct and only if the bag contains a Tefach of width and a Tefach of hovering space over the Sefarim is it considered an Ohel. [see 315:17]

If one plans to re-wear the Tefillin afterwards: Vetzaruch Iyun if one plans on wearing them after using the bathroom if they may be entered into a public bathroom in any type of bag, just as we allow entering them while wrapped in one’s clothing. See Admur 43:4 that the above ruling was only written regarding a case that the person does not need to wear the Tefillin again afterwards. However, if he does want to wear it again maybe any kind of bag should suffice, even if it is designated and less than a Tefach. On the other hand, one can argue that the leniency is only regarding wrapping the Tefillin in one’s clothing while if one wants to put in a bag then it must fulfill the above conditions.

During the day: Vetzaruch Iyun based on the wording in Admur 43:4 that perhaps the decree was never made during the day, and hence during daytime it is permitted to enter covered Tefillin into a public bathroom even if it is a designated cover and does not contain a Tefach. On the other hand, one can argue that the leniency is only regarding wrapping the Tefillin in one’s clothing while if one wants to put in a bag then it must fulfill the above conditions. conditions.

[12] Admur 43:4

[13] Admur 43:5

[14] This leniency applies even today in which we are no longer accustomed to wear Tefillin throughout the day just as the leniency applies by entering Sefarim to a public bathroom, and a double covering is not necessary, as rules Admur in 43:6.

[15] Admur 43:3

[16] See Admur 43:4 that this law applies only “During the day”, since one plans on re-wearing the Tefillin afterwards as was common back then to wear it throughout the entire day. However today that this is no longer the custom, seemingly even during the day the allowance of wrapping them in one’s clothing would only apply if indeed one plans on putting them back on.

[17] Admur 43:3

[18] See Admur 43:4 and previous footnotes

[19] The reason: This is because the urine will splatter on ones feet and there is chance that when he bends to clean it up, that the Tefillin will fall down. Vetzaruch Iyun if this applies today even by our toilets and the wall units made for urinating.

[20] Admur 43:3

[21] Admur 43:4 “At night or near night, being that one will not be wearing the Tefillin afterwards…” See previous footnotes At seemingly this would apply even during the day if one does not plan to re-wear it.

[22] Admur 43:4

[23] Admur 43:6

[24] The reason: The reason Tefillin is more lenient than other Torah books in this regard is because Tefillin are worn throughout the day and are thus constantly with a person. Therefore, the sages did not want to require a person to have to constantly go home to put away his Tefillin before entering a bathroom. Torah books, however, can initially be left at home, and therefore the sages did not feel the need to be lenient. [Admur 43:6]

[25] A bathroom which has the urine and feces immediately transferred to another area: Any bathroom which does not hold the urine and feces within them, but rather has them [immediately] transferred to another area, does not receive the Halachic definition of a bathroom, and thus receives the same Halachic status as a field [and as a bathroom used only for urinating]. [See Admur 43:3; 83:4] Thus, when entering to urinate, if it is a private bathroom it requires a legal covering, and if it is a public bathroom it does not require any covering. However, if entering for a bowel movement then by a private bathroom it is forbidden to be entered even covered, and by a public bathroom it may be entered with a legal covering.

[26] Admur 43:1 regarding a Beis Hakisei Sheayno Kavua and that “A temporary bathroom area is defined as any area in which it is uncommon to defecate in”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 43 footnote 5

[27] Seemingly, this allowance applies likewise to the area of a men’s public bathrooms which contain the urinal wall units which are separate from the toilet bathrooms, which have their own cubicles. However, perhaps this would depend on the distance from the ground that the surrounding cubicles walls are built, as if they are above three Tefach, then perhaps the entire bathroom, including the urinals, are considered one area. Vetzaruch Iyun, as perhaps since the cubicles designated for defecation are in the same structure as the urinal, and are in such a close distance, therefore we suspect one may come to enter the cubicles and defecate if we allow him to enter the urinal with his Tefillin.

[28] Admur 43:1-3

[29] Admur 43:1

[30] Admur 43:6

Is there any difference regarding the law of Torah books between a urinal room and a bathroom used for also bowel movement? Seemingly, there is no difference, and thus even in such a bathroom one may only enter Sefarim into it if they are properly covered.

[31] Admur 43:3

[32] The reason: As the Tefillin guard him from evil spirits, as well as that it’s a Mitzvah for a person to personally guard his Tefillin. [Admur ibid] This implies that in any area where there is suspicion of the Tefillin getting stolen [even if there is no evil spirit] it is better for one to enter them with him, in a non-designated bag, into the bathroom than to give them to someone else to guard. However, the Kaf Hachaim 43:30 brings from the Ateres Zekeinim who rules [based on an implication from the Michaber] that in a place where someone else is able to guard it and there is no worry of evil spirits in that place, then it is better to give it to someone else.

[33] Kaf Hachaim 43:30 based on Ateres Zikeinim 43; The Ateres Zikeinim rules [using an implication from the Michaber] that even in public areas, if there is someone else that is able to guard it, it is better to give it to someone else.

[34] See Admur 43:3 “It is a Mitzvah for him to personally guard them” and 43:5 “Perhaps bystanders will take them”

[35] Admur 43:5

[36] The reason: As this was only permitted in an area where leaving ones Tefillin outside the bathroom would have a chance of it being stolen. Thus, being that in a private area There is no worry of the item getting stolen, therefore one must leave his Tefillin outside even if they are covered.

[37] See Q&A!                                                                                    

[38] 43:6. However the M”B [25] rules that they may be entered if they are covered, and do not require a double covering. He does however bring the stringent opinion [of Admur]. Even according to Admur they are permitted to be entered if theya re in a double covering. [M”B ibid]

[39] Ruling in Shulchan Aruch: The concept of entering a Sefer with a double covering into a bathroom is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch. It however is mentioned in 40:3 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Tefillin; 40:8 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Sefarim. Michaber 240:6 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Sefarim; Admur 315:5 regarding having Tashmish and doing ones needs in a room with Sefarim. In all these Halacha’s it is ruled that a double covering permits the act.

[40] Machatzis Hashekel 43:14; Elya Raba brought in M”B 43:25 and so rules M”B ibid bringing an opinion that is lenient even if it only has one undesignated covering. So concludes Piskeiy Teshuvos 43:3

Ruling of Admur: in 43:6 Admur simply writes it is forbidden to enter Sefarim into a private bathroom even if they are covered. He does not mention a difference between two coverings or a single cover. However, in 315:4 Admur rules one may do his needs in front of Sefarim that contain two coverings, hence implying like the opinion of the Machatzis Hashekel that two coverings always permit the entrance of Sefarim. However perhaps one can say that case is different as we do not require one to take the items out of his room in order for him to do his needs and rather suffice with a double covering, just like we rule by Tashmish. However, to initially enter the Sefarim into a bathroom perhaps Admur never agreed that it is allowed. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[41] Piskeiy Teshuvos 43:3 that based on the Poskim, from the letter of the law it is allowed to enter Tefillin even into a private bathroom if it is doubly wrapped

[42] Kaf Hachaim 43:30 based on Ateres Zikeinim 43 regarding Tefillin and seemingly the same would apply regarding Sefarim, as rules Admur 43:6 that they have the same law as Tefillin regarding a private bathroom.

[43] Heard from Harav Asher Lemel Hakohen.

[44] Admur 40:3; M”B 40:7 based on M”A 40:2; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 43

Other Opinions: Many Poskim are lenient to consider the Tefillin doubly covered. [Birkeiy Yosef 40:1; Mahrtiz 131; Shulchan Hatahor 40:1; See Kaf Hachaim 40:10; Piskeiy Teshuvos 40 footnote 47]

[45] Admur 43:5

[46] See Admur 43:6 in parentheses

[47] Admur 43:5

[48] Admur 43:6

[49] Admur 43:6

[50] 1st opinion in Admur ibid; M”A 43:14; Rosh Brachos 3:26; Tosafus , brought in Rabbeinu Yerucham 19:5

[51] 2nd opinion in Admur ibid; Rav Haiy Gaon, brought in Rosh ibid, Rabbeinu Yerucham ibid, Rabbienu Yonah Brachos 23a

[52] Admur ibid; Beis Yosef 43

[53] Admur 43:6; M”A 43:9

The reason: As even in a bathhouse the Sages prohibited entering while wearing Tefillin. [Admur ibid and 45:3] Now, although above we explained that the reason it is forbidden to enter a bathroom to urinate while wearing Tefillin is because we suspect that the person may have a bowel movement [thus implying that when entering without intention to urinate then there is no prohibition to enter while wearing the Tefillin], nevertheless, this is only because without this reason the sages would not have wanted to trouble one to remove his Tefillin prior to every urination being that urinating is a human necessity [i.e. Chayav Shel Adam] which cannot be withheld [despite the fact that even entering into a bathroom while wearing Tefillin is generally prohibited]. However. when one enters the bathroom without a need to urinate, then the ideal ruling applies that one may not enter wearing Tefillin. [Admur ibid; M”A ibid]

[54] Admur 43:3

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